Football: Coaches meet media, Maturi meets MLB

Big Ten football coaches gathered in Chicago for the annual Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon, while Athletic Director Joel Maturi went further east to meet with Major League Baseball officials in Washington, D.C., on Thursday. And one Gopher player left town for good.

The Gophers were represented at the media luncheon by co-offensive coordinator Mitch Browning, as head coach Glen Mason recovers from minor surgery. Browning gave the usual assortment of positive comments on his team and focused primarily on the character of the players who will wear the maroon and gold this fall.

"On paper, our team has a lot of potential this season," Browning said. "This is my 19th year working with Glen Mason and talking to him. We agree that this is probably our best football team. We are excited to work with this team, which has exhibited a great attitude heading into the season.

"We've made three bowl games in the past four years," he continued. "The big difference between last year's bowl game and the others is that we won, which helped us gather momentum. I like our football team a lot going into this year. We have a great nucleus of players who have a lot of character and work ethic. We cannot be happier with the type of kids we are working with this year."

Meanwhile, U.S. Senator Norm Coleman facilitated a meeting between Maturi and Major League Baseball officials to see if they could solve a potential Metrodome conflict that could cost the Gophers two home dates in October.

MLB has priority at the dome if the Twins reach the playoffs, and the Gophers' games Oct. 11 vs. Michigan and Oct. 18 vs. Michigan State are now in doubt because those dates are reserved for possible Twins playoff games.

The Star Tribune reported that Maturi was optimistic the conflict could be resolved.

"We just need to do a little more homework," Maturi told the Star Tribune. "There are no guarantees, but I believe everybody wants to make this work."

According to the story, if MLB allows the Gophers to play on the same day as a Twins game, the U would likely have to move the game to 10 a.m. and make other concessions, such as taping the lines on the field instead of painting them on.

Discussions will continue at an Aug. 14 meeting, and the Big Ten wants a final decision on where the games will be played by Sept. 1.

And the football team suffered a defection this week. According to the Pioneer Press, linebacker Phil Archer has transferred to Division I-AA Western Illinois.

Archer, a senior from Cretin-Derham Hall, started 10 games at strong-side linebacker as a sophomore in 2001 and was fifth in the Big Ten with 113 tackles. But he lost his job to Ben West last year and ended up starting only one game, against Wisconsin. He was listed second behind sophomore Kyle McKenzie at the "drop linebacker" spot on this year's preseason depth chart.

Archer is eligible to play immediately because he transferred to a I-AA school. He joins former Gopher Bradley Vance at Western Illinois.

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